THE Philippine Embassy in Amman has regained contact with several families in Gaza Strip after losing contact with all of them for more than 30 hours since Israel expanded its ground military operations to Gaza.
This, as the Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF), an international charity group with doctor volunteers in Gaza Strip, said Israel’s “atrocity” on Gaza is unprecedented, a scale that Gaza “has never seen before.”
Philippine Ambassador to Amman Wilfredo Santos said they lost contact with Filipinos around Friday 6:28pm local time (12:28am Saturday Philippine time).
After more than a day, when communication lines were restored, the Embassy staff were able to reach 86 Filipinos around 4 a.m. local time Sunday (10 a.m. Sunday Philippine time).
“We were able to get in touch today [Sunday] with several families in Gaza and they confirmed that they are safe,” Santos said. Fifty-seven Filipinos whom they reached are in Rafah governorate, while the rest are in Deir
Al Bahla and Khan Younis
There are 136 Filipinos in Gaza Strip, 51 of them children aged 15 days old to 17 years old.
In Gaza City, where the Israel Defense Force focused its ground operations, the number of Filipinos rose from three to nine. “Six came back [to Gaza City] kasi kulang na ng spaces sa lugar nila sa southern Gaza,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said.
One of the nine Filipinos in Gaza is a nun who chose to remain there despite the threats of missile strikes.
“We also got in touch with the Filipino nun and she disclosed that she and her religious congregation as well as the 800 people taking refuge in the church are safe and have food. She just requested us to pray for their safety,” Ambassador Santos said.
50 others incommunicado
The Embassy will continue to reach out to 50 other Filipinos who could not be contacted as of press time.
“The primary concern of the Philippine Government remains the continued safety of the Filipinos in Gaza. We will continue to monitor their situation and exhaust all options in providing the necessary assistance to our kababayans. We hope that they continue to be safe from harm and efforts to allow the safe passage of foreigners including Filipinos out of Gaza will materialize at the soonest possible time,” Santos said.
Doctors Without Borders
“The bombing by the Israeli forces has intensified to a degree not seen until now: northern Gaza is being razed to the ground, while the whole Strip is being hit and civilians have no place to take shelter ….The atrocity is on a scale never seen before in Gaza,” the MSF said in a statement.
It added that people are being killed and forcibly displaced from their homes and water and fuel are running low. Hospitals are running out of medical supplies, the number of injured in need of “urgent medical assistance” is more than the already limited number of beds available in Gaza Strip.
With the total communications blackout, the MSF has lost contact with most of its Palestinian staff, limiting their ability to provide humanitarian and medical assistance such as rescuing people under the rubble, delivering babies and providing help to elderly.
It said the non-binding resolution of the United Nations General Assembly “has done nothing to rein in the indiscriminate violence unleashed on a helpless people.”
“The actions of world leaders are too weak,” it added. “The international community must take stronger action to urge Israel to stop the bloodshed.”